• Reuters economists were expecting a 5.5% increase, after 20.3% contraction in the UK economy in April.
  • The small scale of the recovery suggests that the much-vaunted V-shaped recovery some economists expect in the UK is a long way away.
  • "The economy was still a quarter smaller in May than in February, before the full effects of the pandemic struck," ONS statistican Jonathan Athow said.
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The UK's economy grew by a much smaller amount than expected in May after a historic plunge in GDP in April.

The Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday that the UK economy grew by 1.8% in May, after a dramatic 20.3% contraction in April.

Economists polled by Reuters were betting on a 5.5% rebound.

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So while May's GDP figures are a step in the right direction, they reinforce the view that the path to economic recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic may be harder than many expect.

The ONS also said the UK economy shrank 19.1% in the three months to May, and contracted by 24.1% year-on-year.

A chart of the rebound published by the ONS on Tuesday shows the tiny scale of the recovery compared to previous drops, and suggests that the UK is a long way away from the much-vaunted V-shaped recovery some economists expect in major Western economies:

Screenshot_2020 07 14_at_10_17_07
Screenshot_2020 07 14_at_10_17_07
ONS

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, said: "Manufacturing and house building showed signs of recovery as some businesses saw staff return to work. Despite this, the economy was still a quarter smaller in May than in February, before the full effects of the pandemic struck."

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The ONS said the UK economy has contracted by 24.5% since February, before the pandemic kicked off.

Athow added: "In the important services sector, we saw some pickup in retail, which saw record online sales. However, with lockdown restrictions remaining in place, many other services remained in the doldrums, with a number of areas seeing further declines."

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